ST. PAUL — President Donald Trump has approved the state of Minnesota's request for federal disaster assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump's Tuesday, April 7 approval comes two days after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz requested federal assistance, saying that the state "responded quickly to this public health disaster and continues to do so to the fullest extent possible,” but “the state’s ability to respond to and recover from this event will be severely impacted" without federal help.
As of Tuesday, 1,069 Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus. Thirty-four Minnesotans have died from the illness and 64 are hospitalized in intensive care units.
Along with Walz's request, all 10 of Minnesota's members of U.S. Congress penned a letter to the president on Sunday urging him to grant the state's request quickly. They pointed to the state's health care facilities, which are in need of more medical supplies, capacity and workers, as well as the state's struggling economy.
As of Tuesday, Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said more than 355,000 Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits since non-essential businesses shut down. He said that's approximately 11.4% of Minnesota's total eligible labor force.
Following Trump's approval of Minnesota's request for federal resources, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in a Tuesday afternoon statement said the declaration was "a step toward making sure those in need have access to critical resources."
“The coronavirus pandemic has caused a public health and economic crisis across Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “I will continue working to ensure that all Minnesotans, as well as our state’s health care facilities, small businesses, and farmers, have access to much needed relief.”